Welcome to the Mapping What Matters Digital Report

In 2014, Alberta Ecotrust embarked on the most significant research endeavour in our history. Our goal was to better understand Alberta’s environmental nonprofits (ENGOs) and determine how we can best support them and the important work they do. ENGOs protect the ecosystems we rely on for health and prosperity, and our role is support them in this incredible role.

To achieve our goal, we combined social network analysis with a comprehensive organizational needs assessment. Social network mapping allows us to understand the past and future relationships between ENGOs in Alberta. The needs assessment gives us a snapshot view of their strengths, their challenges, and the opportunities they face. The combination of these two tools enables us to build, bolster, and connect networks of nonprofits in ways that were previously unimaginable.

In total, 167 organizations participated in Mapping What Matters. We estimate this represents more than 80% of the active environmental nonprofits operating in Alberta. We are incredibly thankful for all the organizations who participated in the project. It is our hope that the results will be a valuable tool in undertaking the irreplaceable work they are undertaking across our province.

This report is the first step in our post-Mapping What Matters world in supporting Alberta ENGOs. The information contained here represents a broad overview of the results and learnings thus far. But there is much further to go. Understanding the relationships between ENGOs, alongside their strengths and needs, is only the beginning. Using this data in ways that are meaningful to ENGOs, and that leads to positive environmental outcomes, remains the ongoing challenge.

We are confident that what we have learned in this project can catalyze environmental networks across Alberta. We are hopeful we can continue to help nonprofits fulfill their collective missions: to protect our environment and build a sustainable future.


How This Digital Report Works

The following three sections of this page contain introductions to the three main results of the project: social network maps, an overview of ENGOs in Alberta, and their strengths, needs, and opportunities. Clicking more information will allow you to see the full results from the project in each area.


Report Home 

Network Maps

ENGO Overview

ENGO Capacity


Number of organizations who participated in Mapping What Matters.

We estimate this to be more than 80% of the currently active environmental nonprofits in Alberta.


The Calgary Foundation

Mapping What Matters was made possible through generous support from The Calgary Foundation.

Mapping Critical Networks in Alberta’s Nonprofit Environmental Sector

Social network analysis is the mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, groups, organizations, computers or other information/knowledge processing entities.

In Mapping What Matters, we visualized the relationships and connections between environmental nonprofits. Specifically, we measured past collaborations, future collaborations, and idea flows.

The resulting maps of relationships will allow us to support ENGOs in several ways:

Strengthen & Mobilize Networks

Improve the quality and quantity of relationships, mobilize leadership, and generate more actions that lead to breakthroughs.

Facilitate Knowledge Exchange

Open up new opportunities for more direct, two-way information and knowledge sharing in the future.

Resource Mapping

Locate resources and expertise, seed new communities of practice, and improve strategic decision-making and alliances.


Meet Alberta’s Environmental Nonprofits

What is an ENGO? We define an ENGO as any nonprofit organization who works on environmental issues as a primary focus area. In Mapping What Matters, we limited our project scope to registered nonprofits and charities operating in Alberta. We excluded organizations who have offices in Alberta but who only work on environmental issues outside of the province. Groups who are not registered entities were also omitted.

What do we know about ENGOs? Alberta’s ENGOs are incredibly diverse. They work on a spectrum of environmental issues across the entire province, from Waterton in the south to the Athabasca in the north. Their resources vary dramatically. Most ENGOs are volunteer run organizations with little or no budget, but there are also multi-million dollar a year organizations with 15+ staff. They use a variety of strategies to achieve their missions, and mobilize a lot of their fellow citizens along the way.

Would you like to know more Alberta’s ENGOs? Where they work ? What issues they work on? Their staffing and resources? How they collaborate? Click the button below to learn this and much more.



Alberta’s Environmental Nonprofits: Strengths, Challenges, and Opportunities

The voluntary sector faces many challenges. Environmental organizations are working on big, complex, and important issues. Often doing so with little to no resources. Even the largest ENGOs in Albertas can face difficulties when trying to fulfill their mandates.

At the same time, we are consistently amazed at the quality of work ENGOs do in our province. In challenging times they continually rise to the occasion. They are protecting our ecosystems, engaging citizens, and providing leadership on environmental issues.

In Mapping What Matters, we asked ENGOs what their strengths and needs are. We also used the Mckinsey Organization Capacity Assessment Tool to assess their operational capacity. As a capacity building organization, Alberta Ecotrust wants to provide relevant and needed programming. We want to improve the ability of environmental nonprofits to deliver their mandate. The capacity assessment, alongside the network mapping, presents a unique opportunity. We now have the ability to connect ENGOs with each other based on their needs, strengths, and willingness to help.







What’s Next: Continuing to Support and Strengthen Alberta ENGOs

In the coming months we will be presenting the data and results of Mapping What Matters back to the participants of the project. We are hoping their continued feedback will help inform our path forward in supporting the work they do. In the future, we will be assisting Alberta’s environment community in three key ways:


Catalyzing Networks

The results of the network mapping are a huge opportunity for Alberta nonprofits to work together in new ways, and to strengthen old relationships. Starting in 2015, we will be offering a series of Network Weaving workshops which ENGOs can participate in. The workshops will be tailored to the unique networks and needs of the people that participate –  learn more about this opportunity.


Convening ENGOs

We are continually told by our friends in the ENGO community that we need to bring people together more often. A beer, a workshop, a meeting, or a summit can all provide unique opportunities to work together in new and better ways. The Mapping What Matters results allow us to bring people together more often, in a more strategic manner, and connect them in ways previously unimaginable.


Build Capacity

Alberta Ecotrust has hosted many workshops, seminars, and events over the last 23 years in trying to improve the ability of ENGOs to deliver their work. The results of Mapping What Matters allow us to continue to be relevant and targeted in meeting the needs of environmental nonprofits. We are currently developing a three year capacity building framework which will inform how we work with ENGOs in the future. Key areas we are focusing on will include evaluating and measuring success, demonstrating impact, and strategic collaboration.

Would you like to know more about Mapping What Matters? Think your organization can benefit from the data? 

We encourage all parties who are interested in this project and the results to contact us. Please contact Rod Ruff, Program and Engagement Manager, at [email protected].




“We have learned that transforming systems is ultimately about changing relationships.”